Friday, January 16, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Asshat

There are moments in parenting that make you feel like the smartest, most entertaining, most resourceful, kindest parent in the world. Gluing a favorite toy back together, catching a child in mid-fall, saying the just the right thing to soothe a sobbing child, occupying a toddler on a rainy day using nothing but Popsicle sticks, glue and construction paper. Those kinds of moments.

There are also moments that make you feel like a complete asshat.

If you play your cards right and work really hard at it, the good moments are more frequent than the asshat moments. But the asshat moments hurt. Hopefully you haven't done anything so awful that it hurts your child physically or mentally, but it hurts you. At least, the asshat moments hurt *me*.

There are simple ones, like the time I got the Bug all hyped up to go to her favorite indoor play center. We got there and the place was closed for a private party. Bug already had her shoes off and was excited about jumping in a bouncy tent. I had to pull her back and tell her we weren't allowed. Talk about taking the wind out of some one's sails.

There are scary ones, like the time I was holding Dos, who was enraged that I'd just changed her diaper. She bucked backwards and right out of my arm. I can still hear the sound her body made when it hit the floor and it makes me sick to my stomach. After four hours in the ER, Dos had a perfectly clean bill of health and Bug was have a grand time in the hospital cafeteria and I was resolved to hold my baby tightly, with two hands, no matter what.

And then there was Saturday night. A new level in ass-hattery for me. I was a major-league asshole to my child. I was frustrated and weary. She was energetic and insistent. I threw away a toy she gave me and stomped off, leaving her alone, wailing in the kitchen. I didn't just take the wind out of her sails. I shredded the sails, pulled the plug on the boat and left her there to sink.

I apologized a short time later and she seemed fine with everything, but I can't forget the sound of her cry. Add that to the nasty look Grinch gave me later, along with the admonishment, "She was really hurt. REALLY. Hurt." and my torment is complete.

No parent is perfect. I know that. I pray a lot for patience, strength, energy and fortitude. I don't know if God hears those prayers. I don't know what he'd think if I prayed, "Dear God, don't let me be an asshat to my children today."


Kara said...

Do you ever read Motherlode on the New York Times website? I know, I don't have kids, but I still find it really interesting. You should check out yesterday's post.
When I get angry I just think about Warren Savage and channel my feelings towards him (by the way how could you not tell me that he was arrested?!).

ingrid said...

when i was a nanny, it was strange that the only time i lost it with one of the boys was when their mom was home with a migraine.

the 4 year old was unusually ... adventurous that day. he was usually really reticent to try anything new. but that day, that day, that day he was an absolute monkey. he had literally climbed to the top of a book shelf and i was totally freaked out, imagining it falling and crushing him.

i pulled him off and put this poor little four year old in his room for half and hour (which is a hell of a long time for a four year old.) of course when i went to his room to talk to him about his crime and my reaction, i left his little brother (2 years old) in his crib... however, within reaching distance of baby powder and penaten cream. oh yea.

so i come back after talking to a tearful 4 year old who by now has totally forgotten what i'm mad about and go into the nursery which is somehow completely covered in baby powder and cream, as is he. i burst into tears, the oldest one totally thought i was crying about him, the youngest laughingly playing in his goopy mess.

and of course, this is when their mother emerges out of her bedroom, a pained expression on her face and me, feeling totally out of control of the situation.

i felt like such an idiot.

Heather said...

Kara, I read the article and it was excellent. I'm trying very hard not to yell. When I do, it really does feel like an out-of-body experience. I'm telling myself, "Don't do it! Don't yell!" but it happens anyway. I'm going to take all that negative energy and channel it toward our favorite former co-worker.

Ingrid, I think I would have cried, too!